The value proposition of laying down some extra bucks for a 4K UHD TV has steadily increased in the last four to five years. Sure, quadrupling the resolution is good on paper, but without great content that could take advantage of the technology, what was the point? Fortunately, there's now a solid selection of native 4K content to stream (provided you've got WiFi that can handle 4K).
Here's a brief list of where to get started with your 4K streaming options.
While Netflix doesn't necessarily have more 4K content than competitors like Amazon Prime Video or iTunes, it does have the advantage of being the most popular streaming service around, as well as producing its own movies and content, almost all of which is available in native 4K resolution.
Highlights include Roma (winner of Best Foreign Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematographer from this year's Oscars); super popular TV shows like Stranger Things, MindHunter, House of Cards, Marco Polo, and a lengthy list of Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-offs; and a bunch of really amazing nature docs like Planet Earth II and all of the Moving Art episodes.
Between movies and TV show, there are hundreds of titles to choose from. While not all of them are jaw-dropping (really old content souped up to 4K resolution tends to look a bit grainy sometimes), there's enough really solid content rendered in 4K on Netflix that it's probably the first service you should subscribe to (or upgrade your existing subscription for) if you've just gotten a 4K TV.
Amazon Prime Video
The best thing about Amazon's Prime Video service is that if you're already a subscriber, a lot of TV and movie content (especially original series like Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent) are not only included free, but are included free in 4K resolution. You can watch newer content like Jack Ryan in 4K and HDR, as well, as long as you have a TV that supports HDR.
Of course, if you haven't signed up for Amazon Prime, you can do so for either $120 a year or roughly $13 per month. While that's cheaper than Netflix, it's also worth pointing out that Amazon Prime Video is not a streaming service first and foremost, and doesn't have nearly the same selection of content (4K or otherwise) that Netflix does.
That said, if you're already a Prime subscriber, Prime Video is a great way to take advantage of your 4K TV, and the service is available on most built-in smart TV platforms and on all the best streaming devices.
Everyone's heard of YouTube! Well, did you know YouTube not only has a pretty good selection of 4K (and 4K HDR) content, it's also absolutely free?
While you won't necessarily find actual movies or TV shows on YouTube (unless you want to subscribe to YouTube Premium), the amount of free 4K content you can watch is growing all the time. In fact, there are even guides there on how to watch 4K content on different platforms—guides which, ironically, are also in 4K.
If you just bought a 4K TV it's very worthwhile to go looking through its available channels and extras. Since almost every 4K TV is a smart TV, not only are there direct ways to access 4K providers like Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube, your smart TV might just have free, included 4K content on it already.
While that's not nearly as reliable (or likely as good) of an option as something like Netflix, there do tend to be some pretty bombastic and impressive demo reels, if you're just looking to knock yours friends' socks off.
Lastly, if you're an iTunes user, keep in mind that you don't need to spring for an Apple TV 4K device if iTunes is your preferred method of consuming movies and TV shows. With AirPlay coming to a wide array of 4K smart TVs this year, 2019 might be the best year to go ahead and spring for one.